California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI)

3903L. Damage to Personal Property Having Special Value (Civ. Code, § 3355) (Economic Damage)

[Insert number, e.g., "12."] The unique value of [name of plaintiff]'s [item of personal property].

To recover damages for the unique value, [name of plaintiff] must prove all of the following:

1. That the [item of personal property] had some market value;

2. That the [item of personal property] had unique value to [name of plaintiff]; and

3. [That [name of defendant] had notice of this unique value before the harm;]


[That [name of defendant]'s conduct was intentional and wrongful.]

No fixed standard exists for deciding the amount of this value. You must use your judgment to decide a reasonable amount based on the evidence and your common sense.

Directions for Use

The judge should determine whether the peculiar value claimed by the plaintiff is legally sufficient. While the subcommittee been unable to locate cases that state this rule explicitly, cases have upheld the giving of this type of instruction where there is substantial evidence of peculiar value.

Sources and Authority

Civil Code section 3355 provides: "Where certain property has a peculiar value to a person recovering damages for deprivation thereof, or injury thereto, that may be deemed to be its value against one who had notice thereof before incurring a liability to damages in respect thereof, or against a willful wrongdoer."

"[T]his section deals with property which has a market value and also a peculiar value to the owner, and not with property having no market alue." (Zvolanek v. Bodger Seeds, Ltd. (1935) 5 Cal.App.2d 106, 110 [42 P.2d 92].)

"[T]he question of whether plaintiff proved 'peculiar value' was a factual question for the determination of the jury and that question was properly submitted to it for decision." (King v. Karpe (1959) 170 Cal.App.2d 344, 349 [338 P.2d 979].)

Secondary Sources

4 Levy et al., California Torts, Ch. 52, Medical Expenses and Economic Loss, § 52.33 (Matthew Bender)

California Tort Damages (Cont.Ed.Bar 1988) Vehicles and Other Personal Property, § 13.7

15 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Ch. 177, Damages (Matthew Bender)

6 California Points and Authorities, Ch. 65, Damages (Matthew Bender)

1 Bancroft-Whitney's California Civil Practice (1992) Torts, § 5:17

(New September 2003)